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Pentecostal Theological Education: Asia Pacific Theological Seminary

On the practical side, financial challenges in formal theological education are constant. Bible schools and seminaries are financial sinkholes because of the need for buildings, books and compensated faculty. Many smaller Bible schools in the Philippines, for example, cannot afford to pay their faculty much or anything at all. The result is that most faculty are part time and pastor churches as well. Still, many prospective students cannot enroll due to lack of finances.

 

Do you have access to good theological study materials?

We have one of the largest theological library in Asia here. The school’s leadership has worked hard over the years to fund the library and the results have been a great blessing to the student body that have paid wonderful dividends in their ministries after graduation. We have recently added a small study program in Chinese, which means we need to be able to provide resources in the Mandarin language and this represents a real challenge for our library.

Many schools, however, struggle to provide resources in any language. APTS has tried to address the issue by donating books that we no longer need to area Bible schools, but the need remains immense.

A big challenge is providing books in the vernacular. Most theological books available in Asia are only available in English, which presents a real barrier in countries in the Asia Pacific where English is not spoken. Some books have been translated into the various languages and some Asian scholars have published in their own languages, but the need remains serious.

Another issue is worldview. Most of the books available are written from a western perspective. Asians trained in critical thinking can make the distinction between good theology and the western culture, but the average Asian pastor may not be able to do so.

 

What are the most significant doctrinal challenges encountered by instructors at your school?

There are major Asian worldview issues that books from the West simply do not address. Most Asian cultures, for example, have shame and honor as a core cultural value, rather than the guilt and innocence that predominates western culture and the literature produced by western theologians. Thankfully, some Asian schools are addressing this issue and some Asians have published on this vital topic.

Another issue is the doctrine of hyper-grace that is most commonly attributed to preachers like Joseph Prince and Joel Osteen. While I do not personally follow these men and cannot personally speak to this issue, some feel that it is out of balance and needs to be addressed.

Then there is the challenge of other religions. Our seminary president recently stated that we do not have the luxury of doing theology in an academic ivory tower because 97% of Asians are not Christ followers. Most are adherents of other religions. Our challenge then is to respond to them in a manner that reflects the uniqueness of our faith and in a manner that reflects the love of Jesus Christ.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2017

About the Author: Dave Johnson, M.Div., D.Miss. (Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines), is an Assemblies of God missionary to the Philippines. Dave and his wife Debbie have been involved in evangelism, church planting, and Bible school and mission leadership. Dave is the Managing Editor of Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, the director of APTS Press in Baguio City, Philippines and coordinator for the Asian Pentecostal Theological Seminary's Master of Theology Program. www.daveanddebbiejohnson.com http://apts.academia.edu/DaveJohnson Facebook Twitter

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